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Showing posts from April, 2018

On Sha'atnez - Parashat Acharei Mot - Keoshim 5578, April 27, 2018

The second of this week’s double Torah portion is Parashat Kedoshim – a parasha full of mitzvot. The Torah writes, “You will observe My laws; you will not mate your animal into another species, you will not plant your field with mixed seed; and a garment that is a mixture of combined fibers will not be upon you.” In this verse, the Torah records the prohibition of wearing sha’atnez – a mixture of wool and linen combined within one garment.
Rabbenu Chizkiyahu ben Manoach, in his commentary Chizkuni, presents two messages that can be derived from the mitzvah of sha’atnez. In his first explanation, Chizkuni suggests that sha’atnez is one of a category of commandments – including not interbreeding animals or certain plant species – and is connected to the mitzvah that immediately precedes it – to love one’s fellow.
Chizkuni writes, Immediately after the Torah commands us to be holy and to not do violence to our fellow, it commands us, similarly, to not do violence to animals or other things i…

The Severity of Gossip - Parshat Tazria - Metzora 5778 - April 20, 2018

This week’s parashiyot, Tazria and Metzora, deal with tzara’at. Tzara’at is a disease that afflicts the skin, clothing or home of those who commit certain types of sins – most commonly the sin of lashon hara – gossip.  Although the disease of tzara’at resembles leprosy, it was a physical disease caused by a spiritual sickness – an external consequence of an internal corruption.

In fact, the word metzora, the name given to one who is smitten with tzara’at, is an allusion to the sin that causes it. Metzora is a contraction of the phrase motzi shem ra – bringing about a bad name for another through spreading gossip about him or spreading falsehood.

Our rabbis repeatedly teach about the severity of the sin of motzi shem ra. Midrash Rabba (VaYikra 16:6) teaches that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says that the word “Torah” is used five times in connection with the word “Metzora” to teach us that anyone who spreads gossip about another is transgressing all five books of the Torah. 

Commenting on …

Small Acts of Holiness - Parasht Shemini 5778 - April 13, 2018

Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut – the annual commemoration of the establishment of The State of Israel, and the constant sacrifice made to maintain its security, out of the darkness and ashes of the Holocaust.  
Within one week we are overwhelmed by the sadness over the loss of those millions who perished at the hand of the Nazis, yemach shemam vezichronam, awed by the heroism of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Force and emboldened by the celebration of the existence of the State. Last evening, we, as a community, memorialized the victims and vociferously declared, in word and in deed, that we are survivors. This coming week, we will recognize the dedication and sacrifice of our Israeli soldiers through education and a tzedakah campaign. Twenty-four hours later, we will celebrate Israel with a march at 2:30 pm from MHA, up White Station Road, down Laurie Lane, down Yates and into Baron Hirsch Congregation. 
These days of remembrance and celebration are fraught with emotio…